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Awesome Stuff in Space: Planet Mining GONE WILD

25 Sep 2013, 17:23 UTC
Awesome Stuff in Space: Planet Mining GONE WILD
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You may have heard of the hyper-startup Planetary Resources, a company which aims to “expand Earth’s natural resource base” by developing (and eventually using) the technology to mine asteroids in the Solar System. They also have a lot of money, with investors such as Larry Page (Co-founder of Google) and James Cameron (Writer of Rambo: First Blood Part II). But what if they’re thinking a bit too small? There’s an exoplanet called 55 Cancri e which orbits the star 55 Cancri A ~41 light-years away from Earth. What makes 55 Cancri e interesting is that it weighs about 8.63 times the mass of the Earth and there is a good chance that about third of that mass is diamond. That’s a lot of diamond. Let’s be optimistic and assume for the moment that 55 Cancri e does in fact contain 2.88 times the mass of the Earth on diamond. What would happen if Planetary Resources really turned on the afterburner and tried to mine 55 Cancri e?
One slight problem is that at the moment very little is known about the geochemistry/geophysics of carbon-rich planets like 55 Cancri e (Earth is “oxygen-rich”), though I’m sure the promise of INFINITY DIAMOND ...

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